Woods tackles Thomson's record
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard | Preview | 18 Mar 2014
Tiger Woods will look to join Peter Thomson as the only golfers to have won an event nine times on a recognised Tour when he takes on this week’s Arnold Palmer Championship at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando.
Thomson won the New Zealand Open on nine occasions between 1950 and 1971 and Woods will look to extend his remarkable record at Bay Hill to nine when he tees it up on Thursday.
For Woods the event offers a litmus test as to just where he stands leading into the first major of the year at Augusta National in three weeks time as despite his poor recent form this is a layout that seems to kick start him into gear.
Woods eight victories began in 2000 with the initial four coming in succession. He has also won on the last two occasions he has played and so arrives at Bay Hill as the defending champion although he has hardly excelled this year having finished no better than 25th in four starts. He won the start before his victory last year and in 2012 had been in generally good form before his win.
As suggested therefore this might just be a litmus test for just how the balance of the year will pan out for Woods as if he can’t performed well on a golf course he all but owns in terms of performances then his chances of immediate ongoing success may be a concern.
Adam Scott is playing this event for the first time since missing the cut in 2009 and even when he has played has generally been disappointing at Bay Hill. He did finish 3rd in 2004 but that aside there has been no other top ten. This is a change of schedule from the one that led him to success at Augusta National last year so it is an interesting decision by him to play the event.
Justin Rose appeared one run short last week and that was the way it turned out, contending late in the event before finishing 8th. The Englishman has a very good record at Bay Hill finishing second and third in two of his last three starts including when two shots behind Woods last year.
This will be only his 5th event of the year but last week suggested he was warming to his task. His chances of his first win since the US Open last year are very good.
Kevin Na went very close last week before finishing runner-up to John Senden and now that he has found form which has also included a runner-up finish at Pebble Beach recently he might be a factor on a golf course he has played well previously. Na was 4th in 2012 and runner-up in 2010.
Zach Johnson has missed only one cut at Bay Hill in tens starts and has recorded three top tens. Johnson is in very good form at present and is likely to be a genuine chance of contending at least.
Henrik Stenson has not been great this year but neither has he been all that bad. He does enjoy a reasonable record at Bay Hill and this week might provide the opportunity to return to the level he was at through 2013.
Graeme McDowell has been runner-up twice at Bay Hill and so clearly likes the layout. McDowell has played sparingly but well this season and deserves to be considered.
Australians in the field other than Scott are Marc Leishman, John Senden, Matt Jones, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers and former winner Rod Pampling.
Leishman finished third in this event in 2011 although his form has dropped off in recent weeks after what was a good start to the year.
John Senden will face the prospect of a let-down after the heroics and achievements of last week but he does have a solid record in this event and could potentially contend again especially given his new found form and confidence.
It is a bit hard to get excited about the chances of the other Australians however.